Azura Cruise Review by imdavidmin
- Sail Date: May 2019
- Destination: Europe
- Cabin Type: Inside Stateroom
1. Nearly no cruise ship has a helicopter pad - airlifting is standard procedure, as is evacuating rooms / restricting balcony access. This was all done in strict accordance with safety procedures, and I have to say the crew did this well despite inconvenience this might cause.
2. We did have quite strong rolling due to strong winds and sea conditions. The captain altered course to avoid the worst of the weather, but he can't control the weather. An unsteady ship in strong weather conditions, along with all the creaking and banging waves are inherent risk of sea travel. I felt as safe as can be given the circumstances (which wasn't at all outside of crew's ability). Some might have argued that the ship should just not sail instead, but if that happened, I guarantee you there would be complaints that we skipped destinations / was stuck somewhere.
As regards to some other reviews: It's not a luxury cruise with servants, but has all the amenities for a pleasant journey. If you feel like you can't stand the poor or indeed the wider society, do spend more on a smaller boat or purchase your own yacht. There's no complaints from me for the fellow passengers - you can be perfectly left in peace. Out of thousands of guests onboard, hardly anyone has left me a outrageously poor impression. There definitely are a good number of passengers who just love a moan (indeed, it is the British national sport). Heard about a man who had to leave his cabin when the helicopter came in as standard procedure, and he thought he's entitled to a personal apology from the captain!
Service on-board was adequate. My restaurant waiter had engaged in great conversation and was quite friendly (1/2). I don't expect them all to do so (although quite a number do), as other passengers might not understand they work 11 hour shifts a day often every day, serving multiple tables waiting for their food. It's unreasonable to expect them to be available at your leisure. Overall the restaurant is what I expect of a good restaurant, and the food was great.
Cabin service had also been good, with our steward making up our cabin multiple times a day. Zero complaints about cleanliness. No he did not loiter around waiting for tips at the end of the trip. And no, I don't expect him to be my private butler.
Embarkation and disembarkation were both decently good. Not a huge time to wait. Disembarkation was actually ahead of schedule. It was held within different venues (which are often on deck 6), and then we were lead to deck 5 (I think) to disembark. The instructions were not misleading as I recall.
As to entertainment and enrichment activities - I'm speaking as a 20 something having lived in other countries. When I see the programs I can see how they are tailored to the demographics they had on board - old and very British. The music acts were all trying to pay homage to artists that once were a big thing, the comedy bringing up British TV celebrities that have been in the business for decades and now largely irrelevant (for me). I don't blame P&O for giving customers what they want, but of course, would hope for some more.
Gym is decent. You could do most things. Would benefit from at least a pull-up bar for back. Weights can be limiting when it goes up only to 22kg, but then again with no foam flooring, so no dropping of weights, it might be the wise choice. Enjoyed the free fitness classes this time (last cruise Sep 2018, the PTs weren't very good).
Plenty of public rooms / spaces you could hang out at. I had an inside cabin, and planned to be out of the room except when sleeping. That plan came to fruition as much was on offer. Sauna, steam room, gym, dining, etc. If weather was warmer, the swimming and lounging would have been great. I went to the sauna almost every day before bed, and nearly never anyone there.
My own real complaint - it might not be apparent to the passengers on board but there were a lot of aggressive sales tactics for the spa / retail sections. If you go for a haircut, be warned they'll also try to sell you shampoo, conditioner, and whatever else. They do so aggressively by saying "I'll put this in your bag" by default, instead of asking if you would like to purchase. The spa / wellness is also exempt from the new no tip required policy - a 10% service charge is added by default, and they will not tell you this is optional or ask how much you would like to give. Further, they've got a number of seminar type events where they'd spew out even more fake science, the type I'd think the elderly would easily believe by the young immediately see through. Lastly, not entirely sure if this true, but the biggest sales events are always held on sea days when you probably have no internet and do a price check. Quite predatory in my opinion.
The ship is starting to show its age - a refurb might be needed. You can see some of the handrails losing paint from so many guests hands having brushed them. The rust on balconies and window panes. The drab carpets.
But overall, this had been a wonderful trip despite the events that were unavoidable and inconvenient. I feel relaxed and refreshed. The food had been great. The views had been great. The lifestyle on board had been great. Service had been great. Though, yes, it's not the private butler lifestyle some other passengers might feel they are entitled to at merely less than £90 a day (inside cabin). For me it's well worth the money. Highly recommended.
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